Thursday, June 27, 2013

Late to the Yoga Party

I've taken up yoga. 

Big deal, you say. Many of you have been singing the praises of yoga for years. It is a big deal to me--one more new life-enhancing activity to add to my Second Half. I've always liked the idea of yoga but relegated it to the "maybe someday, when I have time, if I feel like it" category, along with things like scuba diving or learning to play bridge. 

When I embarked on my new life in January,"someday" became "now". Stress had nearly crushed me, and I needed to find new ways to cope and heal. Yoga sounded like the perfect addition to my list of stress-relief strategies. For the first few months, however, I was still too busy to try it. We sold our house, bought a new one, moved across the country, and embarked on a massive remodeling project. Paradoxically, I needed to reduce my stress before I could experience the stress relief of yoga. I needed a routine that allowed  time and space to search for peace. Eventually, OG and I settled into something resembling a routine, and two weeks ago I decided I was ready to give yoga a try. I'm much less stressed than I was six months ago and better able to tackle something that requires concentration. 

The common advice to those wanting to take up yoga for the first time is to look for a class. Now I'm in reasonable shape and still pretty flexible, but I know what I don't know. At fiftysomething, I wasn't comfortable facing an instructor and a group of other students until I figured out if I even like yoga, much less if I'm able to do it. So I did what I always do--I researched. I checked out several how-to books for beginning yoga students and selected Yoga for Dummies, by Georg Feuerstein and Larry Payne.

I'm thrilled say the book is exactly what I was looking for. It's a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, introduction to yoga with a special section on beginning yoga after age 50. I was able to learn the poses and Level 1 routine quickly and have been performing it every other day, alternating with days on the treadmill, for the past two weeks. I haven't hurt myself, and I believe I do feel calmer and more flexible. In a few weeks, I hope to advance to Level 2, but I'm not going to push myself. Even the simple poses seem to bring real benefit.

One drawback, however, is that I now want to move into the new house even more quickly. It wasn't easy to maintain my concentration this morning with racket from the gardeners using gas-powered leaf blowers outside and a construction crew demolishing the interior of the unit next door. It's going to be a LONG six months until we move into the house and I can have the peace and quiet yoga both demands and deserves.

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